|Fell Cut trying to deliver Siu Ching to the Bats, Ep 17|
Saturday, 6 February 2016
'Escape from the Bat Palace' - a Chor Lau Heung 1984 fan-fiction
Premise: what if Yat Dim Hung delivered Song Siu Ching to the Bats instead of leaving her in the dilapidated temple to later be found by Chor Lau Heung? Special thanks to Tamuyen for giving me this idea. This fan-fiction is for you, my dear friend, and also for all MB fans out there. “The New Adventures of Chor Lau Heung” 1984 is the property of TVB Hong Kong. I own nothing but my love for the series and Michael Miu and Barbara Yung. Click this to read this fan-fiction at my new Jianghu blog.
Escape from the Bat Palace
Wu Tit Fa had to do a double take to confirm that it was truly his old friend Chor Lau Heung who just screamed. Yes, it was the King of Thieves, alright. So uncharacteristic of him, Lingering Fragrance lost his control a moment ago as he slammed Chuen Yung Yat Dim Hung to the wall. Fell Cut, on his part, surprisingly did nothing. He just winced slightly as Lau Heung accidentally hit the hematoma he got from the last fight with the Bat Prince, but the assassin didn't flinch when Lau Heung prepared a punch.
"Mate, stop it!" Wu Tit Fa yelled in surprise. Chor Lau Heung never manhandled someone like that, let alone in a totally alpha-male, non-kung fu style. Wu's warning came a second too late though, for Lau Heung's fist already hit the target...
Which wasn't Dim Hung's face. Instead, Chor Lau Heung's punch squarely hit the brick wall a few inches away from Dim Hung's head. It must've hurt, for blood started to drip from Lau Heung's poor right fist. Yet, the King of Thieves didn't even flinch. Instead, he hyperventilated as his nostrils flared and his slanted eyes glared at Fell Cut; expletives he had never used since graduating from adolescence coagulated on the tip of his tongue, ready to be expelled. Chor Lau Heung was clearly trying to control his anger, while the man in front of him was barely able to manage his guilt. Hence no one moved for a good few moments, until Wu Tit Fa overcame his surprise and firmly dragged Lau Heung away from Yat Dim Hung. He forcibly made Lingering Fragrance sit on the nearest chair. However, it didn't take long for Lau Heung to turn his body back to Fell Cut, who still plastered himself on the wall totally motionless.
"You should have never taken her with you."
It took the assassin a while to reply, almost a whisper, "It was her idea...I tried to shake her off my trail, but she persisted..."
"You should've tried harder," with another glare, Lau Heung relayed a deadpan volley.
"I couldn't! You know how she is! When she has made up her mind, nothing can stop her!"
"So you just fed her to the Bats. To know who murdered your wife." Lau Heung rose again, facing the black-clad fighter in front of him with curled fists, his voice came as a scary whisper this time. "And did you succeed in killing that guy?" The question came as a mock, for Lau Heung knew that Yat Dim Hung wouldn't act the way he was now had he defeated the murderer. Plus, Song Siu Ching would be here by now had Dim Hung avenged his wife.
"No," came the remorseful reply as the assassin stared into an empty space. "It was the Bat Prince himself who killed Yin Yi...and he was too strong for me." That info came as a surprise even for Lau Heung, such that he forgot his anger for a moment. Yet, when he realised that now this Bat Prince held Siu Ching captive, he exploded again.
"All the more reason that you should've never delivered Siu Ching to him!" With that, the usually calm and collected Chor Lau Heung stormed out of the hut, nearly clashing with So Yung Yung and her sisters who just arrived in time to hear his last outburst.
Song Siu Ching looked around at the four grey walls that formed her captive quarters. She had been there for almost a month now, almost bored to death. Surprisingly, no one came to hurt or physically insult her. They brought her meals three times a day. Some light readings (Dream of the Red Chamber and a collection of Li Yu's poems) were stacked on the table for her. They even offered her a set of changing clothes, and every now and then two girls would come to help her bathing. A privy was located in a separate small room, connected to her chamber. These people clearly knew who she truly was. At least the guards were told that she was a treasured prisoner, hence they treated her with extra care. Yet, she had no intention to stay there indefinitely. There must be a way out. Come on, think! What would Chor tai-gor do?
With a flinch, she then realised that Chor Lau Heung would have never approved of using her as a bait for the Bats. She sighed. It was too late now. She originally thought that Yat Dim Hung would be able to rescue her. But, after she saw how the assassin found it difficult to beat the Bat Prince, her hope evaporated. When the Bat Prince returned later, laughing like a maniac, stating that Dim Hung fell to his death, she slumped to the floor. No one could save her now. Not even Chor tai-gor, for he wouldn't have a clue of her whereabouts.
Ever since that day, the Bats had held her captive. She had met the Bat Prince that day when Yat Dim Hung "delivered" her. He scared her, particularly when he laughed like a manic. One day, about two weeks after being held captive, the Bat Prince actually summoned her into his quarters. Siu Ching was so scared that he'd destroy her honour there, such that she was thinking of committing suicide if that crime happened. Lucky for her, he just circled her like a beast circling his victim. Several times he whispered that he was jealous of "him", that "he", the other person, was so lucky to have her, but Siu Ching wasn't clear who this other person was. Then, to her horror, he grabbed her chin and made her facing him squarely. She was so scared that he's kiss her, for she had never been kissed, and she had no intention of being kissed by any men but Chor tai-gor. Yet, unexpectedly, someone knocked on the door. Hissing his annoyance, the Bat Prince barked, asking what the business about. When he realised who the person was, he let that person in. Then he exchanged whispers with the man Siu Ching knew as Ting Fung, the Bat Prince's second-in-command. Then they had her returned to her quarters, and she never saw the Bat Prince again.
A clicking noise on the door returned her to the present. She looked up just as the door opened. A man of medium height in red and black clothing entered the room with a tray of food. The door was then closed again and locked from the outside. It was always like that to prevent her from running, for she did try that trick to no avail during her first week. Siu Ching glanced at the tray. Lunch; beef stir-fry it seemed. She barely ate her breakfast this morning, and now she had a new set of meals in front of her.
"I'm not hungry," she said. The man just shrugged and picked up her breakfast tray. "I want to see the sunlight. What day is this?" The man said nothing. "I'm bored! What will your master do to me??" The man looked at her briefly, shrugged again.
"Be grateful that you're still alive," he said before making his way out. Siu Ching heard something outside and seized her chance. "What's the ruckus outside about?" He shrugged again, and after mumbling something like "mind your own business", he left the room and locked it again from outside.
Siu Ching studied the locked door absentmindedly. She had gone past the stage of knocking, tapping, or kicking the door. Nothing happened other than some laughters or barks from outside. There was no secret passage either; not that she was aware of at least. And she had indeed looked around. Growing in the Palace, she was aware of some secret passages that could be accessed through hidden buttons or hidden mechanics. She tried to turn every little thing in her basic room, but she found nothing. Of course, if this was a captive room indeed, it would be too stupid for the Bats to install an escape route there. Still, it was worth a try.
But since she had found no escape from within, the only logical way out is by getting through that locked door. But how? How would she move past the door undetected?
She sighed. What would Chor tai-gor do? What would the other girls do?
Then it hit her. One of the girls would know what to do...
So Yung Yung looked at the stars above, trying to locate the Weaver Girl. She found the famous star, which then made it easier for her to locate the Cowherd. Yat Dim Hung said that they could see the constellations of the two stars on a particular angle if they were at the exact location they had been looking for. She turned to see Chor Lau Heung approaching her, looking pensive as he always had been for the last few weeks. To be exact, since the day they happened to find Yat Dim Hung recuperating in a monastery they were passing by en route to meet Inspector Ying Man Lei to discuss the kidnapping of Siu Ching. That day, Fell Cut had requested that he talked with Chor Lau Heung and Wu Tit Fa alone inside a spare hut in the monastery. Only after the girls heard a report from the monks about a commotion inside the hut that they learned that Chor tai-gor had uncharacteristically went ballistic at Fell Cut for the latter had delivered Siu Ching to the Bats.
"So we're at the right location?" When she received an absentminded nod from her adopted brother, she added, "Then we should be able to find the entrance tomorrow then."
"I sure hope so. Since we failed to find the desert entrance, the lake entrance is our only hope." Lau Heung sighed and folded his arms. "It's been a month now that they captured her. I'm not sure..." He didn't finish the sentence. He couldn't.
Sensing his fears, Yung Yung placed a reassuring hand on Chor Lau Heung's arm. "Chor tai-gor, you said yourself that Siu Ching is actually the princess, and that was why the Bats wanted her. I don't think they would be too stupid to harm her in any way at all. They'll keep her safe."
"For now, at least," Lingering Fragrance replied in a whisper. "Until they achieve their goal, that is." He shook his head and, after a while, resumed. "I'm sorry I haven't been my cheerful self these days, Yung Yung. Thank you for your patience."
Yung Yung knew the reason for Lau Heung's subdued nature these past weeks was not just because Song Siu Ching a.k.a. Princess Wing Ching was kidnapped, but also because of what that girl meant to Chor Lau Heung. Yung Yung exhaled, trying to let go of the last shreds of womanly love she had for her adopted brother. She wasn't Sung Tim Yi who still couldn't face the fact that their brother loved another woman. She was neither Li Hung Chao who still hoped that Chor tai-Gor's feelings to Song Siu Ching was fleeting and temporary. No, she was So Yung Yung, the most level-headed girl in the team. She knew when to let go and when to be happy for her adopted brother. And now, seeing him so deflated like this made her unhappy too. Yet, as she happened to turn to the lake side, she saw another deflated man. She nudged Lau Heung's arm. "You're not the only one subdued these days, you know..."
Lingering Fragrance followed Yung Yung's eyesight. He sighed and then nodded. "That one patch-up wasn't enough, was it?"
"Most likely not," Yung Yung agreed. Lau Heung excused himself and walked towards the spot where Fell Cut was standing alone by the lake, under the moonless night. The morning after his outburst, Chor Lau Heung had actually apologised to Yat Dim Hung for his reaction. Lingering Fragrance didn't regret that he was disappointed for what Dim Hung did; delivering Siu Ching to the Bats, despite the girl's consent. Yet the King of Thieves regretted his outburst. To his credit, Fell Cut dismissed Lau Heung's apology, stating that the latter had the rights to be mad at him. Chor Lau Heung had then accepted the peace laurel Yat Dim Hung offered in the form of taking them to the Bat Palace. Yet, the two old friends hadn't truly patched it up. Chor Lau Heung was subdued because he was very concerned for Siu Ching, while Fell Cut kept beating himself for agreeing to deliver the girl to the Bat Prince.
"Yat Dim Hung, thank you for taking us this far," Lau Heung opened the conversation as he arrived next to Dim Hung. The assassin tilted his head slightly before returning his gaze to the lake.
"I'm still not sure I can find the lake entrance though," came the doubtful reply. "I was almost unconscious as I swam over the lake, I barely remembered the channels I took to get out."
"We'll find it together tomorrow." Lau Heung turned to face his old mate. "Yat Dim Hung, I'm truly sorry for the outrage I had a few weeks back. I shouldn't have lost it."
"You've apologised afterwards, and as I said, it wasn't your fault to lose it," Dim Hung shrugged. "As you said, I traded an innocent woman for my own agenda. You were right."
"I shouldn't have hit you like that though."
Fell Cut shook his head. "Instead of hitting me, you hit the wall on purpose. Anyway, I didn't flinch because I knew I deserve it."
"But you did it for your wife. After giving it a thought, I understand why Siu Ching wanted to help you. That girl is a helpless romantic; of course she's moved by your love." Lau Heung sighed. "I am also moved by your love towards your wife." He turned to face Dim Hung squarely. "I'm truly sorry I didn't handle it properly back then."
"I'm sorry I couldn't save her either," Dim Hung replied after a moment. "I really tried."
"I know you did." Lingering Fragrance placed a reassuring hand on his friend's shoulder. "Is that why you've been very quiet these days? Well -" he smiled slightly, for Fell Cut was never a chatty person. "- quieter than usual, that is."
Dim Hung nodded. "I really feel bad for Miss Song. She trusted me so much, and I failed her." When Lau Heung tilted his head in a questioning way, Fell Cut lifted his hand. "Don't get me wrong. I admire Miss Song. But Yin Yi is the only woman I love. Also..." after a moment of hesitance, Dim Hung resumed, "...although Miss Song followed me here, she didn't do that because she loves me. For she has always loved someone else."
"Yat Dim Hung..." Lau Heung faltered, not knowing what to say.
"Save your excuses, my friend. I saw how worried you were for her. I saw how you were injured because of her; I actually was the one who injured you back then. I saw how you chased me outside the Peace Mansion to get her back. And then your rage a few weeks back. Don't tell me all those aren't the signs of love."
"Fell Cut..." Lau Heung looked at his friend, then turned away to look at the stars instead. "She's our Noble Princess... What rights do I have to be with her?"
"Your love gives you that rights," was the simple, truthful answer from the assassin after a moment of silence.
"I'm not sure I'm ready for that."
"Love is scary, that is for certain. It frightened me when I first realised I loved Yin Yi, but I decided to follow it."
It was a while before Lingering Fragrance whispered the next question: "Do you regret it?"
"Not even a bit," was the heartfelt answer. "I regretted my past that brought her demise. But never for a second I regretted following my love for her. My life is much richer now because of that. And I'm also destitute now because I lost her."
Chor Lau Heung studied the serious countenance of the assassin and concluded that his advice might be worth following. If he could overlook the fact that Siu Ching was a princess, that is. And most importantly, if said Princess was still alive when they found her. If they could find her.
Song Siu Ching crouched in a dark corner of the corridor, a few turns outside her captive chamber. Her heart beat like crazy, such that she thought she might have a heart attack. She then calmed herself by repeatedly telling herself that so far, no one had seen her. Well, they had, but what they saw was a short guy clad in black and red uniform, bringing a tray of half-eaten dinner. She had not ditched the tray, for she knew it would be a giveaway of something suspicious.
She also couldn't believe that her plan had worked so far. What she did was reusing her trick when she escaped the Kams. She pretended to lay still when the guard came that morning to bring her breakfast. She had gambled that it would be the same guard, who happened to have similar height with her, and not so muscular either. If the guard was another person with different height and posture, she'd ditch her plan and try another day. But it was the same guard alright. She had pretended to sleep, looking sick, such that the guard would have to check. She knew the guard always closed the door, hence she had the chance to play her trick. As the guard leaned towards her, she remained still. He then had to lean closer, almost hovering over her face. That was when she, as fast as possible, reached to block his mobile nerves, effectively immobilising him. She then acted quickly. Already in her inner garments, her hair tied in a simple male knot, she dismantled the guy's uniform (including the mask) and the hair tie and wore them herself. Stinky (she knew this guard was a bit stinky), but that was part of the plan. She knew she smelled like a girl, and an experienced guard might be suspicious if another guard smelled like a girl. She then wrapped the guy with the outer layer of her own clothing and laid him on her bed. She covered him with blankets and then put two hairpins on the guy's hair knot for good measure. She looked briefly at the face of a young man about her age glaring angrily at her. She shrugged.
Siu Ching picked the dinner tray and the guard's sabre, knocked the door twice, and let the other guards opened the door. Calming her beating heart, she then strode past the door after nodding briefly. She maintained a normal walk until she was a few turns away from her old room. Thank Heaven no one asked her why she was going where she was going, for she actually had no clue where to go. She only knew she had to hide herself soon and assess the situation before moving on.
And that was what she did now. After calming her heart beat, she was finally able to hear some ruckus from a distance hall. Some sort of a meeting. She debated whether to go there or not. Yet, she then heard that the discussion (which was quite loud anyway, despite unintelligible) changed into something more of an argument. Then suddenly she heard someone screaming. Then the clanking sound of sharp weapons. A fight. Siu Ching blanched. Getting involved in a fight when she was under cover like this was definitely not a smart move. Yet, she then heard footsteps. Incoming guards, undoubtedly to handle the fight.
What would Chor tai-gor do?
The incoming steps grew louder. The guards were running towards the hall from an opposite direction. Siu Ching inhaled. She had to take the risk. She peeked and saw a group of guards appearing from the corner across her hideout, running towards the meeting hall. She waited until the last guards appeared before she got out of the hideout and ran toward the meeting room. It was a good decision, for some guards came from the same direction a moment later, shouting at her, asking what happened. She shrugged as manly as possible and pointed her sabre at the meeting hall as she kept running. She then heard footsteps from the direction of her old chamber. Hopefully it was the guards aiding the fight, not the guards who realised that she was missing!
Yet, as she arrived at the meeting hall, her concerns changed. Now her concerns were: 1) how not to get killed in the chaotic fight in front of her, and 2) how to use this situation to get out of here. Quickly, she observed the mob to identify the fighting parties. The uniformed guards were pressing on, and their enemies (wearing masks yet still retained their own clothes) were retreating. For a moment, she was standing there clutching her sabre, confused what to do. Then, again, a lucky strike, for a guard next to her yelled, "They run away! Chase!"
True, the masked "enemies" were retreating into an alley. Siu Ching snapped out of her hesitance and followed suit. Wherever those men running to, hopefully they'd be running towards an exit that would take her out of the Bat Palace!
And she was right. After a few minutes of a mad chase underground, she found herself increasingly running upwards. She soon arrived at some steps. Rough steps, granted, a mixture of man-made and natural terrain, but definitely leading her upwards. Heart beating faster, she ran upstairs to her freedom. Then, she heard it. Her fear.
"The Princess is missing! Don't let anyone escape!!"
Siu Ching was grateful for the full mask she was wearing, for it fully covered her blanched face. She stopped only for a second before running again, barking "Search!!" with a voice as deep and as guttural as possible. She ran upstairs for a few minutes until she saw light, literally at the end of the tunnel. Light. Freedom!
She suddenly emerged outside a cave on a rocky island, with barely any vegetation but some sad-looking grass. She saw the mainland across the water body, which seemed to be a lake. Squinting to filter out the sunlight after a month of being held captive underground, Siu Ching didn't recognise any of the landscape, for she and Yat Dim Hung entered the Bat Palace through the desert entrance. Then she saw the men she "chased" running towards the edge of the cliff, some of them already jumping. She wasn't sure that she wanted to jump, for she wasn't sure how high was the cliff. Yet, she still ran towards the cliff. Then she stopped. The cliff wasn't tremendously high, about 10 meters from the lake's surface. Jumping into the lake wasn't suicidal, but the height was definitely enough to trigger some doubts. Surely there is a way to swim across from the beach down there!
Then, to her horror, she heard it.
"There she is!!"
Siu Ching spun to see some guards running towards her. Among them, she saw the guard she immobilised earlier. He was only wearing his inner garments, the two hairpins she pinned into his hair knot were still there. That sight would have been hilarious had she not been in the position of a fugitive. She turned back to see the water splashing below her. She saw no signs of reefs that would splice her body in two if she jumped into the water. She saw the runaway men, those who were jumping off the cliff earlier, already swimming towards the mainland. She turned back to see her chasers getting closer. Then, she made the decision.
"Chor tai-gor, I'm coming to you..."
Whispering those words, she jumped head on into the splashing blue water below her.
"Chor tai-gor, have some breakfast," Sung Tim Yi implored her adopted brother as she placed some fruits on his lap. Chor Lau Heung's appetite had almost evaporated since he learned that Siu Ching was held captive by the Bats; not that he ate much anyway after she was kidnapped by Fell Cut. Still, he nodded in gratitude and absentmindedly ate one of the bush fruits Tim Yi gathered this morning. He hadn't moved from his hideout behind the bushes by the lake shore since sunrise an hour ago. He was now squinting in an attempt to see what transpired on the small rocky island across the lake. In a discussion last night, they had agreed to watch over the rocky island first to observe any weak points. Besides, if it was true that the island was an entrance to the Bat Palace, it would be an idiotic strategy to just cross the lake without any preparation. Tim Yi followed Lau Heung's gaze but couldn't see much. She was a better listener due to her acute hearing (which aided her musical talent), but she couldn't observe something that far a distance. Suddenly, Lingering Fragrance tensed. He asked Tim Yi if she saw any movements on the island. When she reported none, without peeling off his gaze towards the island, he asked her to fetch Fell Cut. When the assassin came and squatted next to Lau Heung, the King of Thieves asked if he identified some movements on the island.
"Yes...barely though," Dim Hung admitted after straining his eyes. "Shall we ask Wu Tit Fa?"
Chor Lau Heung shook his head. "His nose is better than his eyes," he explained as a matter-of-fact as he took another bite of the fruit. "I definitely think something is happening on the island. Just keep watching."
Soon, everyone took their designated positions. More than half an hour had passed when they almost gave up on detecting anything. Then, Lingering Fragrance decidedly sprung to his feet.
"Something is definitely happening there! Some people just jumped into the water and now are swimming back here!"
Not that she ever wanted to experience this again, but at times like this, Siu Ching was grateful for the stolen opportunities to learn to swim in the Palace ponds. She wasn't the greatest swimmer ever, but she definitely owned her strokes. Yet, fear of being captured seized her several times, such that she was suddenly gripped with despair, for fear that she wouldn't make it to the shore. That she wouldn't make it back to Chor tai-gor...
Yet, she kept her strokes, until her arms felt numb, until she considered giving up. Then she saw it up ahead: land! The other shore! She made it! As she turned her head to get some air, she saw other black-clad men swimming for their lives. To her horror, she saw parts of the lake water getting red. Some of these men were gravely injured, and soon they might not make it. Then she heard the noise that was her nightmare. She turned slightly, just enough to see some small boats cruising fast across the lake. The Bats' devil boats! She wouldn't make it!
She swam faster, trying to widen the gap between her and her pursuers, but they were the ones who were able to shorten the gap between them. Then it happened: two of them jumped into the water, powerful strokes followed, and she then felt rough hands grabbing her and tugging off her mask. She felt fresh air and blinding sunlight on her naked face. Then she screamed as one of her pursuers tugged her hair roughly.
"Trying to escape, eh? Let's see if you dare to do that again!" He then tugged her by the hair and neck, and, together with his colleague, dragging her back to one of the devil boats. She screamed again and wriggled here and there, desperately trying to escape. She kicked one of the pursuers' chest, and that catapulted her some feet away from him. Yet that pursuer wouldn't have any of that. He swam back to her and hit her with a palm strike on her chest. She gasped and plunged deeper into the water column. Cold water filled her lungs. She tried swimming up again, but the enemies now realised that drowning her was the best course of action. They could always revive her later. Hence they held her under the water, as she screamed and fought violently. Then, suddenly the pressure was off to a degree. She heard screams. She saw a flash of white whirling above the water surface. Her enemies let her go. She gasped for air, yet the cold water filled her lungs again. She felt a cold darkness welcoming her down under. She thought she heard the voice of the man she loved calling her. But that was impossible. Chor tai-gor didn't even know where she was now. She felt light-headed. Too tired to fight, she let go and let the water claim her.
I'm sorry, Chor tai-gor... I couldn't make it...
"Siu Ching! Wake up, Siu Ching!"
Panic-stricken, Chor Lau Heung patted her cheeks several times. She didn't budge. Did he fish her out of the water too late? He thought it wouldn't take him long to fight the Bats in the middle of the lake, in the water column. Yet, his enemies were powerful swimmers. Although it was not comparable to his fight with Yam Kay the Sea Queen years ago, the Bats truly preoccupied his time. As soon as the two pursuers who held Siu Ching captive were defeated, others suddenly sprang out of nowhere. And his friends were too far away on the shore, for he was the only one with excellent Ching Kung that let him practically flew towards the middle of the lake, using just a few floating debris as stepping stones. Besides, turned out that the Bats also attacked his friend on the beach for trying to protect the other pursued fugitives. By the time Lau Heung handled all his attackers and jumped into the water to search for Siu Ching, he found her so deep under water that he had to resurface for air once more before doing another deep dive to get her (he had to ditch his thin cape for it impeded his dive). By the time he pulled her into a vacant devil boat, she wasn't breathing. He tried waking her up on the boat, but due to safety, he then "flew" her back to the beach.
Now, since she wasn't responding, the worst scenario struck Lau Heung. Yet, he shook his head violently, dismissing that thought. Siu Ching wouldn't just die, just as he saved her. This girl was strong; she was a fighter. She would fight her way back, and he'd assist her. He calmed himself and checked the surroundings. Li Hung Chao was still fighting the Bats with Wu Tit Fa next to her, but they were getting the upper hand against the Bats. Good, but it means he couldn't rely on Hung Chao's medical expertise now. He then checked the pulse on Siu Ching's neck. He thought he detected a very faint pulse, but it could be his own. Deciding for an extreme measure, he removed her upper layer of clothing and started to apply pressure on her chest. He applied it several times before opening Siu Ching's mouth, pinched her nose and forcefully blew air into her mouth several times. He then returned to pressing her chest several times before blowing air into her mouth again while at the same time blocking the airway of her nose.
Yet, after several rounds, nothing happened to her. When Hung Chao and Tim Yi finally arrived at their side with the others seconds behind, they saw an increasingly desperate Chor Lau Heung pressing Siu Ching's chest and blowing into her mouth, while whispering "Wake up! You have to wake up! Wake up, Siu Ching!" or their variants. Tim Yi even saw tears slowly streaming down Chor tai-gor's cheeks and falling on Siu Ching's pale face. She was stunned, for she had never seen Chor tai-gor in such a manner. Hung Chao on the other hand, after overcoming her initial surprise, took over. She held Lau Heung's hands to stop him.
"Stop, Chor tai-gor! You've done enough!" Since Lingering Fragrance kept ministering his treatment, Hung Chao forcefully removed his hands from Siu Ching's chest. "Stop it! If this works, she would have breathed by now!"
That stopped Chor Lau Heung. In fact, that stunned him. He looked alternately between Hung Chao's concerned face and Siu Ching's pale face. The Princess' pale lips he had touched with his own so many times just now in order to bring her back to life. He went as pale as those lips as he slumped on the sandy beach of the lakeshore.
His whispers were hardly heard by others as he stared at Siu Ching's motionless body. Then he locked gaze with Hung Chao, whose eyes were starting to get misty. Then, slowly, Chor Lau Heung grasped Siu Ching's cold hands and enveloped those hands with his own. He'd seen death before, many of those he found it hard to accept. Yet, this one in particular, he just couldn't accept. Slowly, he brought those hands to his lips and kissed them. He put his head in her hands, refusing to let go. Feeling numb, he leaned forward and embraced her so close to his chest. His tears started to flow again, but the pain in his chest was too great, it blocked him from letting out even the slightest sob.
Then, after what felt like an eternity, it happened.
A subtle twitch on one hand. Then a cough. Then the sound of someone throwing up. Surprised, Lau Heung jerked his head back to see volumes of water and what looked like the remnants of meals flowing from Siu Ching's mouth despite her supine position. As the girl coughed violently, Hung Chao and Yung Yung helped her sit to facilitate the water and liquid expulsion from her lungs. Flabbergasted, Lingering Fragrance helped the girls helping Siu Ching. After she threw up most of the water (and her dinner, it seemed), Yung Yung and Hung Chao planned to help her laying down again. Yet, someone prevented them from doing that.
That person was Chor Lau Heung. He held onto Siu Ching possessively, letting her weak and wet body clinging onto his own wet body. The girl herself was barely awake, but she knew it was him, hence she clung onto him. Since she heard him repeatedly whispering, "You're back...you're back...Thank Heaven you're back..." she clutched on to him. As the others finally convinced Lau Heung to let her go due to medical reasons (i.e., the patient had to rest), Siu Ching eventually let herself drifting back to sleep. A safe sleep this time, for she knew he was here with her.
"Well, in that case, I'll see you tomorrow morning then." Flashing a rare smile, Yat Dim Hung rose from the chair next to Siu Ching's bed and made to leave. Yet, as he approached the door, he turned to Chor Lau Heung. "Forgot to say, the carriage from the village will be ready an hour after sunrise tomorrow. Is that agreeable?"
"Yes, that is agreeable," Lau Heung smiled back. "We should be ready by then." He turned to Siu Ching, and added, "And no, you're not walking. We've discussed this last night, and you agreed to use the carriage." He turned back to Dim Hung and nodded, "That is decided."
Dim Hung had to chuckle on seeing this exchange. He himself had been involved in a funny conversation with the girl the other day, in which he profusely apologised to Siu Ching for not being able to protect her, to which the girl profusely refused to let him blame himself, for she had signed up for that risk. She also expressed how happy she was that he was alive, for she thought he'd die during the fight with the Bats. Relieved to see the spirited girl coming back to life, Chuen Yung Yat Dim Hung excused himself.
"You're sure with the sedan chair?" Siu Ching started again after she was alone again with Chor Lau Heung. "I'm bored staying in a room and doing nothing. I want to have a walk." They had stayed in that village for four days now since the lake lucky escape. The village was miles away from the lake, the closest village they could find. Prior to that, after taking a few hours’ rest, Lau Heung had insisted that they relocated the patients to a safer place. Patients, for they also found one Luk Ching Wah from the Whale Clan, the only other survivor from the lake escapee. Siu Ching of course barely registered this. She only knew that throughout the whole day's journey to reach the village, Chor tai-gor had carried her on his back nonstop, while Yat Dim Hung and Wu Tit Fa carried Mr Luk. She also knew that, upon arriving on the village's only inn, Chor Lau Heung had not left her side even for a bit. She was too weak to tell him to leave the room and sleep elsewhere, and truth be told, she was actually happy to have him by her side. After two days of rest, her health improved. Only then he did leave the room to have a few hours' rest, but he'd return as soon as he was refreshed.
"You promised me already that you wouldn't make me worry anymore. At least you'd try. Time to fulfil that promise, Princess."
A day after they arrived at this village, Chor Lau Heung finally disclosed the fact that he knew who she truly was. He disclosed it in his own way too; kneeling down in front of her, stating how glad he was that they could rescue her in time. Of course Siu Ching was surprised, but she knew that sooner or later, he'd found out about her identity. Lingering Fragrance then told her that her father disclosed his identity to him, ergo, Siu Ching was the Princess. He then gently informed her that the Emperor was also kidnapped, but they hadn't found out his whereabouts. Siu Ching had shaken her head at that time. She hadn't seen her father at the Bat Palace. Had the Bats captured Emperor Father, wouldn't they have reunited her with her father then? Chor tai-gor then stopped her train of thoughts, stating that she should focus on getting her strength back. Then they should regroup with Inspector Ying and possibly getting some help from Yuen Tsui Wan. Siu Ching had agreed. She laid down again and stared at Chor tai-gor's handsome and caring countenance until she fell asleep.
Now, listening to him calling her 'Princess', a nagging feeling that had been there since the last few days returned to her.
"Chor tai-gor, you're not going to distance yourself from me because I'm a princess, right?"
He blinked. "Why would you say that?"
"Just a hunch," she shrugged. "I'm just worried."
"It's not something to worry about," Lau Heung reached for her hands to sooth her. "Just get well soon. We'll depart to the Peace Mansion tomorrow, and we'll ask Young Master Yuen to gather the other heroes. Then we'll find a way to find your father."
"And you'll stay with me?"
He wanted to say 'of course, why wouldn't I be?' but he'd be lying. But he couldn't hurt that hopeful countenance either, not when she was recovering. So he chose a white lie.
"Am I not here with you now?" He cast his adorable smile as he fixed her blanket. "Now, get some sleep. We have an early start tomorrow."
Siu Ching finally relented. As she closed her lovely eyes with a smile, Lau Heung wondered how long he could keep this façade from her. She wasn't totally recovered yet, but she already sensed something wrong; that he was considering distancing himself from her. But how could he tell her that he actually did want to stay with her, yet the situation was just too complicated for them to be together?
Chor Lau Heung realised he'd have to breach that topic with her one day. But not tonight. Tonight, he just wanted to sit next to her, watching her sleeping like an angel, as she had always been in his dreams...
First, I'd like to thank Tamuyen for giving me the idea for this fanfiction, hence this piece is for her. Thanks a lot my dear friend, I truly appreciate your regular visits...
The first sentence on this fan-fiction took a lot of contemplation and several changes. There was never a situation where Siu Ching was truly delivered to the Bats before Chor Lau Heung was aware of the identity of his enemy. In this situation, CLH wouldn’t know what kind of situation SC would be in. To understand how CLH could react in that situation, I rewatched Ep 25 where CLH reprimanded Fell Cut for being so stubborn (FC wanted to take the Bat Prince alone tho he was sick), Ep 27 where CLH snapped at Siu Ching and Ying Man Lei for trying to stop him from drinking (after the death of the Kam Brothers) and Ep 27 where CLH reprimanded SC for being so ignorant of her responsibility as a princess to the country. Chor Lau Heung was indeed a calm and collected person, but he was a human too, and he had his limits. What I did was stretching it in a situation where he wasn't familiar with, involving a lady he was very interested in.
I also discussed with Tammy about when CLH would rescue SC. Tammy’s original idea was to have her captured till CLH et al rescued her, the other girls, Dr Cheong and the Emperor in Ep 30. However, IMO it would deprive SC of CLH's experience in Ep 26-27 where he misjudged the Kams and caused their demise. I think that event in Ep 27 was a very crucial event in the series, for there we truly learned that CLH could make mistakes, and he was very raw and exposed because of that. Having SC witnessing all that actually strengthened their relationship, for she saw him at his lowest point, and she still loved him despite all that. Hence, I hope you’re okay with the episode/time frame that I chose, Tammy...
When I wrote Chor tai-gor doing a CPR on Siu Ching, I didn't know how the ancient CPR method was in ancient China, although I assumed that the ancient people knew that chest compression could actually assist drowning victims. Then I found this article, the abstract of which convinced me that what I wrote about Chor Lau Heung doing the CPR might not be too far-fetched at all. Too bad the original article is in Chinese, hence I can't read the complete paper... (if anyone can access it for me, please do so though, with gratitude from me!)